Grantland: A loss to sports and journalism

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The recent demise of sports publication Grantland is not only emblematic of a larger problem within sports coverage, but also emblematic of many problems within the world of sports.

Even as someone who doesn’t really pay that much attention to sports, Grantland’s shutting down shows the unsustainable nature of good journalism, much like that of Al Jazeera America’s recent manifesto on their mass layouts.

ESPN has taken flack for covering sports in a way that doesn’t take into account the different angles that sports could be covered from. Instead they’re focusing on the feature of Migos doing the dab on national television in front of an aging television-only audience. Thus showing that ESPN is holding onto the past.

They’re more willing to publish, on their blog, a story about Khloe Kardashian and her relationship with Lamar Odom shortly after shutting down Grantland, rather than keep their four year project with Pulitzer Prize winners onboard.

Even with the plethora of actual news within the sports world, ESPN seems only like a sports tabloid rather than an actual publication at this point. It also doesn’t help that ESPN has a chokehold on much of America’s sports coverage, and with up to 115 million viewers a month, it simply becomes puzzling as to why it got shut down.

The shutdown of Grantland also shows that the current state of journalism, no matter what field it’s in or what kind of tone it takes. Even diversifying Grantland to also cover popular culture wasn’t enough to keep Grantland operating for more than four years, apparently.

“They routinely create stories just so they can then run a whole news cycle on that story,” as a commenter on Reddit’s /r/sports said. “Everything else plays out like they are the TMZ of the sports world.”

I’m not saying that all quality journalism is dying, or that all quality journalism has to be serious. But quality journalism is enriching, not rehashing the same kinds of coverage over and over again just to create controversy or reach at what seems like nothing to talk about stories that may not even be stories.

All in all, Grantland’s recent demise is emblematic of a larger problem throughout much of media, and it shows that there is always a line in media that has to be crossed. There’s a difference between a story meant for entertainment and a non-story about a celebrity appearance somewhere, and that a whole branch of media suffers as a result.